On the Way to the Airport: Episode 7
In the wake of recent tragedies, Do-woo needs Su-ah now more than ever—and it’s clear that she wants nothing more than to be as much a comfort to him as he’s been to her. But once again, those pesky morals keep her from being too comfortable pursuing her inner desires. If only their spouses would exercise the same restraint in their own affairs.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
At Grandma’s funeral, Do-woo and Su-ah hold each other in a tight embrace, oblivious to everyone else—including homestay mom Mary, who follows Su-ah outside and sees them in the act. Mary is shocked but hurriedly turns back into the building, where she runs into Hye-won at the door. Thinking fast, she leads her away from Su-ah and Do-woo.
Hye-won and Mary sit down for coffee, and though Mary tries to make small talk, Hye-won immediately asks about the “Hyo-eun’s Mom” that Mary called out to. Mary laughs it off, saying she must have mistaken her for someone else in the rain, and asks if Hye-won knows her. To Mary’s discomfort, Hye-won wonders aloud if she’s the only one in the dark.
After making sure again that Mary got rid of all of Annie’s belongings in Malaysia, Hye-won reveals to her that Do-woo isn’t Annie’s biological father. Mary is surprised, but she muses that it explains how Hye-won could be so cold toward Annie’s hardship.
Su-ah washes dishes the next day when she thinks of Grandma and Do-woo’s words—that before people die, they leave something behind for the people that are precious to them. At home, Do-woo holds that something in his hands: Grandma’s letter.
Do-woo reads the letter, which holds her final request: to gather her best works and put them up for public viewing in a small, remote house near the ocean. She has included the locations of those works, and tells him that if he explains her request to the people currently keeping them, they will gladly give up her ornaments.
A flashback shows us that Su-ah had waited patiently for Grandma to write the letter, and when she’d finished, she’d asked Su-ah for her name before carefully writing at the bottom: “Delivered by Choi Su-ah.” Do-woo holds the letter and cries.
After his flight, Jin-suk receives a text from Joo-yeon, telling him that she recently had a “meaningful” flight with his wife. She asks if he wants to talk over tea, but he brings her outside instead. Joo-yeon tells him pointedly that Su-ah is very nice. Fed up with her attempts to get a rise out of him, Jin-suk clears up their relationship: They had a few beers, but nothing else happened—Joo-yeon was the one who showed up in his hotel room wanting more.
Joo-yeon points out that Jin-suk called Su-ah a piece of furniture in his house, but Jin-suk retorts that he can sleep comfortably on his own furniture, while “the beds on an airplane are uncomfortable.”
They continue their subtle insult fest, but Joo-yeon is finally forced to bring out her trump card. She tells him that she suddenly recalls Su-ah having a long, secretive conversation with a man named “Seo Do-woo” on the flight. Pausing at Do-woo’s name, Jin-suk finally storms up to her: “So what?” Joo-yeon: “I’m just saying.” Jin-suk walks away coolly, but when he gains enough distance, he can’t hide his puzzlement. He calls Mi-jin, but she takes one look at the caller ID and ignores him.
Meanwhile, the Air Asia crew gear up for their annual training session, in which they simulate emergency procedures. Su-ah leads the crew in the intensive simulations, and afterward, she talks to the training leader, who recalls that Su-ah wanted a job in training. Su-ah muses that she could better take care of family if she had a trainer’s job. As Su-ah leaves, the trainer wonders if Su-ah will be next to quit.
Su-ah checks her phone for replies on her request for someone to replace her next flight to Oakland, but sighs when she sees no responses. Mary meets her for dinner, and mentions that she’s taken care of most of her needs in Korea, but she hasn’t been able to visit her family’s burial grounds, which is a shame because it’s difficult to keep track of it from Malaysia. Su-ah offers to check up on it every so often to express her gratitude for taking care of Hyo-eun.
Mary gratefully accepts, but then asks if Su-ah is close with Do-woo. She gravely informs her that she saw her run to him in the rain at Grandma’s funeral. Looking away, Su-ah says, almost to herself: “We’re just friends.”
Jin-suk visits his mother, Young-sook, at the hospital, still in uniform. To Jin-suk’s discomfort, Young-sook recalls how sorely he’d wanted to quit piloting when he was young—he’d suffered some kind of event that had made him terrified of flying. Jin-suk insists that he barely remembers it, and when Young-sook claims that it’s thanks to him meeting a good wife that he got over his “complex,” Jin-suk notes dryly that she sure warmed up to Su-ah quickly. Young-sook agrees, saying that Su-ah turned out to be more easygoing and dependable than she’d thought.
Jin-suk leaves when Young-sook gets a phone call from Jin-suk’s sister in New Zealand, denying the chance to talk to her. As he leaves the hospital, he calls Su-ah and demands to know why there are rumors about her and another man among the flight attendants. Su-ah is clearly surprised at this, but insists that they only exchanged brief greetings. She then tells Jin-suk that he has to babysit Hyo-eun tomorrow because her work schedule is a mess.
Jin-suk hangs up wordlessly, and Su-ah immediately recalls Mary’s words at the restaurant. Mary had continued: “I don’t know who’s who or what’s right for Annie. The more I think about it, the sadder I feel for her.” Shaking away the thoughts, Su-ah leaps up from her place on a park bench to play soccer with Hyo-eun.
The next morning, Uncle Suk makes breakfast for Do-woo and Hye-won. Hye-won faux-politely tells Suk to take his time leaving, but to Hye-won’s chagrin, Suk has other plans: He’s not leaving at all. He wants to keep an eye on them and the business after Grandma’s death. “Sorry,” he adds to Hye-won, not sounding sorry at all.
Hye-won leaves for work, leaving Suk to ask Do-woo how he’s doing. He insists that he’s fine, but it’s awfully unconvincing.
Su-ah brings some red bean porridge to Do-woo’s buddy Hyun-woo at the bar, the same porridge that Grandma last had. Hyun-woo tells her that in high school, he stayed at Do-woo’s house a lot because both of his parents were having affairs. As a result, he knows Grandma very well—and he wants to thank Su-ah for taking care of her last meal.
Without a word, Su-ah leaves, and Hyun-woo delivers some of the porridge to Do-woo in his office. Do-woo doesn’t think much of it until he notes that it’s red bean porridge.
Hye-won’s business friend tells Hye-won that they’re letting go of franchising Grandma’s business—in the wake of Grandma’s death and Do-woo’s grief, the timing is too bad. Hye-won, of course, has other thoughts, but when her friend notes that Do-woo was against the plan, Hye-won assures her that Do-woo has some things he’s “sorry” to her about, and that she’ll get him on board. Eugh.
Back in Malaysia, Mary goes through Annie’s belongings and finds her old phone. On it is the voice recording of Hye-won ordering Annie not to come back to Korea, but Mary decides not to tell Do-woo by assuring herself, “Hye-won is the birth mother. There’s no need to bother him on top of everything.” Agh! Yes there is!
While Hyo-eun practices soccer with uncle Je-ha in preparation for her tryouts tomorrow, Do-woo works late into the night and Su-ah tends to the chores. They converse in voiceover, remembering Grandma together. Do-woo thanks her for the porridge, and notes that Su-ah’s name was the last one that Grandma wrote down; Su-ah recalls all the gifts she’s received from her, from the button, the ankle bracelet, and the handmade ornament. Do-woo guesses that it must mean Grandma wanted him to take care of his new friends, but Su-ah tells him she’ll consider the meaning for a little longer.
She also mentions that Mary saw them together. Do-woo calls her then, and noting her nervousness, assures her that they’re still under the three conditions they agreed upon. He suddenly asks her if she married Jin-suk for love. Su-ah recalls that she did like Jin-suk a lot—he was a popular and respected pilot. When Do-woo presses for more information, she recalls that they met in Sydney.
Speaking of Sydney, Mi-jin and crew have a farewell party for another member who’s quitting. When Joo-yeon arrives late, she calls Mi-jin for a private discussion and confesses that she told Jin-suk about Su-ah and Do-woo. Mi-jin is exasperated, explaining that Do-woo’s daughter had died and they were only grieving together. Joo-yeon berates herself, and sighs that she wishes the “Gentleman of Sydney” would get what he deserved, like being betrayed by his trusted and devoted wife. Mi-jin: “Su-ah? As if!”
As if, indeed. Still on the phone, Su-ah asks Do-woo what kind of person his wife is. He doesn’t answer, saying that recently, he’s unsure of the answer himself. He guesses Su-ah has never had doubts about what kind of person Jin-suk is, and she agrees.
At that moment, Hye-won drives up to the office, but stays outside in the car. When Su-ah tells Do-woo that she’s heading to Oakland for a week, Do-woo asks to see her before she leaves. Su-ah suggests they stick to a phone call for tonight—she’s scared that she’ll want to break their rules again. She obviously wants to see him too, though, and gives in.
Sitting outside in the car, Hye-won sees Do-woo come outside, still on the phone. He laughs at something unheard before quietly going back inside.
Meanwhile, Jin-suk runs into Mi-jin in their apartment building. Jin-suk strikes up conversation, noting that his wife is away babysitting Hyo-eun while asking for some ramyun. Mi-jin shuts him down and enters the password to her apartment, and Jin-suk notes that her password is still the same. Creep.
Mi-jin eventually gives in, and Jin-suk helps himself to her home-cooked meal. She says it’s to express her gratitude for coming to her defense on their flight, and changes the subject to something more important: Joo-yeon. She tells him to stop playing around with the flight attendants because she’s the one who has to comfort them. Jin-suk, however, says matter-of-factly that it’s their fault for assuming a casual conversation with a married man is such a big deal. Mi-jin: “You’re a married man, so stop having casual conversations with girls!”
Mi-jin notes that she knows that Joo-yeon told him about Do-woo. Jin-suk still doesn’t know who Do-woo really is, so Mi-jin reminds him that it’s Hyo-eun’s dead roommate’s father. Jin-suk: “Oh, the family that put our family into chaos?” Jin-suk snorts at the idea that Su-ah would ever have an affair and is totally unconcerned, but Mi-jin assures him that Do-woo is a total catch. She asks what Jin-suk would do if Su-ah really did have an affair. Do-woo, flatly: “I’d publicly make a fool of her and kill her halfway.” I can’t even.
Mi-jin agrees that it’s improbable, and declares she’ll love him again if Su-ah has an affair—but Jin-suk tells her he can’t love older women. “You don’t have to love me,” he says. “Just feed me from time to time—your food is perfect to my taste.” Mi-jin maybe seems to feel something at that, but she quickly tells him to buzz off—this is a one-time gratitude meal.
Su-ah arrives at Do-woo’s office in a taxi, but when he calls to ask when she’s coming, she suddenly changes her mind, telling him that Hyo-eun woke up and she won’t be able to make it after all. Do-woo is clearly disappointed, and sighs that a week is a long time: “Things might have totally changed by the time you come back.” Still, they agree that it might be for the best that they’re avoiding the danger.
When they hang up, Su-ah steps out of the car and looks up at Do-woo’s window. Hye-won, however, sees her from afar in her car. Realizing who she is, she lifts up her phone, poised to take a picture, and hisses: “Go in… Please. Go in now!” Her eyes well up with tears, and suddenly another dark thought enters her mind as she begs: “No. Don’t go in. Don’t go in!” Oh my god. Overwhelmed by emotion, she slams her hand onto the horn, scaring Su-ah back into the taxi.
Hye-won drives away, and stops in the road, screaming to herself: “What are you two?!”
The next day, however, she’s back to her steely, composed self as she meets with Ji-eun’s mom. Hye-won laments that they couldn’t prepare a document with Grandma in the hospital, but presents an unfinished work of Grandma’s, hoping that it can be sufficient as evidence that Grandma had been willing to collaborate and expand her business.
The legal decision, however, lies with Do-woo. Hye-won acknowledges that Do-woo is against the idea, but insists that once she makes it clear that this was Grandma’s wish, he’ll come around: “I can persuade him.” Uh oh.
Do-woo, meanwhile, is dealing with the business expansion from his own side: Ji-eun’s mom needs his office space, and he needs to move out by tomorrow. Ji-eun half-kneels (not all the way, because “the floor is dirty!”) in apology, and Do-woo sighs at his predicament.
Su-ah says her goodbyes to Hyo-eun before she leaves for Oakland, telling her to call before her soccer tryouts. Hyo-eun asks her not to leave, but Su-ah assuages her fears with cute mother-daughter cheek kisses. Suddenly, she receives an unexpected text message—someone actually agreed to take her shift to Oakland. Hyo-eun squeals in delight, but Su-ah looks more uneasy.
At the hospital, Young-sook prepares for surgery, and Su-ah sees her off. Young-sook wonders if this fate is because she wanted to be paid so badly, but when Su-ah promises to pay her, Young-sook tells her she doesn’t have to. Aw, you softie.
Su-ah starts to text Do-woo that her flight was canceled, but changes her mind and lies that she boarded the plane instead—it’ll be better, she thinks, if they don’t talk for a while. Do-woo texts back: I’m curious what will be different in one week.
Su-ah receives a phone call from Hyun-joo unni, who relays news of a crisis: Hyo-eun isn’t allowed to join the soccer team because it’s a boys only team. When Su-ah arrives, Hyo-eun is having a meltdown in the soccer field, demanding a girls’ soccer team be formed. Hyo-eun stays in the field in protest until dusk, and when Su-ah urges her to give up for now, Hyo-eun faints from exhaustion.
Do-woo and Hye-won have a dinner date at a restaurant. The mood is rather cold, but only gets colder when Hye-won brings up her meeting with Ji-eun’s mom. She tells him that she wants to expand Grandma’s business—but Do-woo has had enough. Do-woo says this has nothing to do with him anymore; what Hye-won wants isn’t what Grandma wanted, and that’s that.
Hye-won, however, refuses to work under someone any longer, and this time she pulls the argument she knows will work: “Hyo-eun’s Mom,” she says. “You know the name, don’t you?” Sure enough, Do-woo’s expression darkens. Even though she hasn’t confirmed anything, she says, she has a gut feeling that this should be enough. She’s sure that “Hyo-eun’s Mom” must be a similar person to him as “Annie’s Dad” is to her—someone who makes her feel sorry to him.
Do-woo flatly denies it—Su-ah doesn’t make her feel sorry to Hye-won. But, he says, “Hyo-eun’s Mom is precious to me—just like Ji-eun is precious to me as a business partner.” He tells her that Su-ah was the only one he could talk to about Annie after her death, especially when Hye-won refused to discuss it at all, and in that sense, she’s even more important to him than Ji-eun. He’s not sure whether he needs to feel sorry for that yet.
As he drives home, however, he thinks to himself: “But honestly… that’s all a lie.”
When Do-woo returns to the office, Hyun-woo informs him the movers are upstairs before handing him some photos they took at Ji-eun’s party. Meanwhile, Mi-jin gets a text from Jin-suk to meet up for a beer, and they find themselves at Hyun-woo’s bar for drinks. Jin-suk complains that the place is too crowded, but Mi-jin already knew he wouldn’t like it: “You like quiet places where no one knows you, so you can talk long into the night with girls aged twenty-five to twenty-nine.” She laments the fact that she wasted her youth on such a pathetic person. But, she adds, she really did love him with all her heart.
Jin-suk suddenly sighs that those young girls are nothing compared to the older ones—they’re insincere and shallow, and all they want is expensive bags and sex. Mi-jin stares at him in disbelief—she’s Su-ah’s friend, for goodness’ sake. Jin-suk whispers smugly that she’s also his “ex-office wife,” whatever that means.
Fed up, Mi-jin goes to get some drinks and notes the movers bringing boxes from upstairs. She asks Hyun-woo (who still doesn’t remember her) to call Do-woo down so she can brag to Jin-suk that she knows someone so cool, but Hyun-woo just hands her two beers and sends her away.
Unfazed, Mi-jin returns to Jin-suk and asks if he slept with Joo-yeon, but he only complains that she’s weird in her clinginess. Mi-jin is sure that he must have led her on, but Jin-suk assures her that he’d never actually cheat: “Men who leave their wives never live well.” Mi-jin: “How touching.”
Mi-jin looks him in the eye and decides she’s going to tell him something she’s wanted to say forever. “Back when we were together, you slept with other women, but I’d take you back every time. When Su-ah told me she was marrying you, I thanked her. She still doesn’t know why, but I’m so grateful to her for ending my obsession with you.” Mi-jin feels sorry that she never told Su-ah the truth about him, but she’s glad to be rid of him, who she considers an embarrassing stain on her past that she wants to forget. Without Su-ah, Mi-jin says,, she might still be in the same position now.
Jin-suk’s response: “Do you want to get back together?” He bursts into laughter at her disgust, claiming that Mi-jin is the easiest and most comfortable to talk to. Sighing, she gets up for some fresh air—she thought getting this off her chest would make her feel better, but she just feels worse.
Su-ah tucks a recovering Hyo-eun into bed at Mi-jin’s house. She gets a call from Mi-jin, who tells her she just had a beer with “someone” near Do-woo’s office, and to Su-ah’s surprise, tells her about the movers—he must be leaving the office. Do-woo, meanwhile, sits in his now-empty studio, putting the pictures of Su-ah at Ji-eun’s party up on a projector screen. He goes through the photos, recalling their first conversation over the phone.
Su-ah wants desperately to ask Do-woo about it, but reminds herself that she’s supposed to be on a plane, unable to talk to him. At that moment, however, Do-woo decides to text her: Today is the last day for my office. I want to be with you. Please, come here right now. Immediately, Su-ah makes a call, and Mi-jin returns home just as Su-ah rushes out. “You’re acting weird,” says Mi-jin, and Su-ah only nods before heading out without explanation.
Su-ah takes a taxi to Do-woo’s place, passing right by Jin-suk in the bar. Jin-suk doesn’t notice her either, but finally realizes that Mi-jin must have left.
Su-ah climbs the stairs up to Do-woo’s studio and knocks. Do-woo calls out that it’s open, but when there’s no response, he opens the door to find the one person he wanted to see. Unable to control himself, he grabs her and pulls her in for a tight embrace.
Well, rules are made to be broken, anyway. Su-ah and Do-woo’s three conditions might stop them from plunging into their affair too fast, but I like that it adds a dimension of consciousness to what they’re doing—when they break their rules, it’s a lot more obvious that their relationship is developing. But breaking one rule tends to be the gateway to breaking all of them, and I really can’t see our couple holding back from each other’s understanding and comfort much longer—especially when their personal lives are getting more and more convoluted.
And they really are getting more convoluted, thanks to their respective, very messed-up spouses. In my view, this episode really belonged to our antagonists, who gained way more dimension than I expected they would. I don’t know if I’m drawn to them because they’re so damn incomprehensible and I’m just curious as to their motives, but I’m shocked at myself for enjoying them so much as characters.
But not as people, of course—Jin-suk is revolting, but it’s really Hye-won that sends shivers down my spine. Still, it’s not often that we get such strange, calculating, mysterious, and strong female villains, and Hye-won is one heck of a puzzle. The scene where she watched Su-ah from her car, poised to snap her blackmail photo, was so fascinating that I watched it three times. Hye-won is a lot of things, but oblivious is not one of them; further, she seems to have this heightened defense mechanism where she’s willing to do anything—lie, cheat, manipulate, unintentionally murder—to achieve her goals. But why that defense mechanism? What is she so afraid of?
And yet in the same scene, she immediately switches to the opposite end of the spectrum, begging for the affair not to be real. She’s not so far gone in her villainy that she has no emotion or remorse. She loves Do-woo, cares for him genuinely, perhaps even romantically; the betrayal of his affair, while it would further her political goals for business power, would ruin her as a human. She still has a beating heart inside of her, even if it is blackened by whatever hardship she endured before meeting Do-woo, and she’s not beyond redemption, not yet—she’s power-hungry and she’s horrible, but at the same time, she’s protecting herself from something. Only finding out what that something is will determine whether or not we can understand her.
In this way, the drama is really great at feeding these small character details out, so that just when you think you have someone figured out, the show pulls the rug out from under you and reveals a whole new side to them. In fact, the show even did the same for Jin-suk (though, perhaps, to a lesser degree). I still hate his misogynistic guts and literally want to stab him in the eye, but what is his problem? With women, with his ego, with his self-esteem—and with that accident? He’s never ashamed or even sly about his immoral habits, and even seems to acknowledge, to a degree, his own cruelty. His banter-filled conversations with Mi-jin in this episode were both pathetic and enlightening; they’re so comfortable together, like old friends who know exactly how to deal with each other and get a rise out of each other. Mi-jin has every reason to hate him, but she only seems to be exasperated. They’re both deeply flawed characters and know it; in some ways, they’re so, so similar, and perhaps it’s that factor that keeps them tied to each other.
No matter what, though, I’m excited to see our second leads step up to the plate as players in this weird and dangerous ball game. None of our characters are morally perfect, but they’re all strong people struggling to take control of their lives. Thus far, the drama kept using death to bring our leads together, but now that (I’m pretty sure) the showrunners are out of people to kill off, it’s up to the villains to guide how Do-woo and Su-ah find each other.